By Joshua Feyen
Click here to read the first two posts in this three-part story.
I stopped to ask Jay about his time in the Hotel. We walked for a while in silence, and then he shared how frustrated he was with himself and with the evening. He had decided not to follow the crowds, and instead to see what he could discover on his own. This resulted in missing many of the performances and not experiencing as much of the Hotel as I had.
For several years following this immersive event, I was as haunted by Jay’s disappointment as I was by the surreal Hotel and its performers. I considered adding “Sleep No More” to one of our subsequent trips to New York, but I was apprehensive that a second visit might disappoint Jay again, or be too familiar to me to be of interest.
Despite these hesitations, four years later, I suggested that we visit “Sleep No More” again and Jay agreed, saying “I’d like to get back on that horse.”
We were again separated at the elevator, and I revisited familiar rooms, had a few new interactions, and came upon the witches’ scene from a different hallway. But this time, I didn’t need to pursue Macbeth; I knew what happened next, and hoped that someone else would follow the naked guy, decipher his gestures, and help him dress. As the performance wound down, some doors shut while new doors opened, directing the wandering audience toward the finale below.
Jay and I found one another right away, more than 20 minutes before the conclusion. This gave us time to explore the banquet scene together. We found a hidden staircase to the balcony and watched the finale from above. The lights brightened and we left the Hotel silently.
I remained quiet to give Jay space to tell me about this second experience. He was glad we returned, and this time decided to follow performers when he came across them. He enjoyed watching the dancers, and discovered new scenes. “I found a room with a billiard table, a bar, and some stuff on the floor,” he told me. “They danced a tango.” He also had two interactions with performers; one gave him a small ring. And he was happy that we explored the final scene and balcony together, a location neither of us had visited previously.
Thanks to having returned, I confirmed that indeed fortune favors the bold. And even though I didn’t follow the naked guy on my second visit, I take that attitude when it comes to making choices outside the Hotel. Since our first time experiencing “Sleep No More,” I started and didn’t give up on a master’s degree while working full time. I published a book that I had been working on for 35 years. And I started a new project; this story is one of 50 I hope to write during my 50th year. While each of these goals involved challenges, frustrations, and long-range planning with uncertain outcomes, the journey and the results have all been worth following the naked guy.
© 2022 Josh Feyen
Josh Feyen was raised on a farm, went to college in Milwaukee, lived abroad for four years on three continents, and now finds himself with pandemic free time and stories to tell. In the middle of 2021, Josh set about writing 50 short memoir stories in his 50th year. Sharing this story with truestorieswelltold.com is an unexpected surprise; the main focus of Josh’s 50 in 50 writing journey is to share what he’s learned with his four teenage nieces and nephew. Josh lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and writes from his COVID-converted attic studio.